Strava Marathon (Bellingham, MA)
Finish Time: 3:34
Temp: 50 degrees
Run For: Krystyna
Running marathons is hard. It’s demanding physically and also mentally. I know I’ve said this before and it’s something that is repeated throughout many recaps during this challenge. Another thing I say over and over again is that dealing with IBD is hard.
This marathon was run for my friend Krystyna and as hard as running a marathon is, it doesn’t even come close to what she has been through. Unfortunately, her story is unique to her. There are others who have also been through hard, and very scary, times when it comes to dealing with IBD. She was so young to have to fight the battle she fought just to finally feel healthy. On a side note, the word healthy has a slightly different meaning in the IBD world. Healthy in the terms of feeling better, but in a temporary sense, or better yet in a “cross your fingers and pray it stays that way” kind of healthy. When you hear someone use the word healthy it usually means that as of right now, they are feeling good and can lead a fairly “normal” life.
Without cures things always feel uncertain and at times downright terrifying. Most just hope for a flare or symptoms to subside, or for the medication they are on to just work. In Krystyna’s case she needed surgery to get her “healthy” again, actually multiple surgeries to achieve this for her. Being so young and having to deal with all this isn’t fair. Most think when you aren’t feeling well you can just get prescribed a medication, take it, and start feeling better. This would be a dream for most Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients. However, just like what Krystyna experienced, most will fail multiple, if not all, the medications available to them which is devastating and extremely terrifying. Imagine having a health issue and trying numerous medications that are out there to potentially treat your disease only to see that none of them work. Not a single one! Let’s not even talk about the horrible side effects that come with taking a lot of them so never mind them not working, they leave you dealing with even more unwanted health issues.
The one true and simple fact about IBD is that it’s flat out awful. Yes, some medications can help and we have come a very long way with treatments over the past couple decades, but cures are what we really need. We also need people like Krystyna, and the other fifty friends and family members I’ve run for to have those cures and be done with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis for good.
I am committed to do all I can for those who are suffering and battling each and every day. I will fight alongside Krystyna because she deserves it and I know I’m just one of many who feel this way. Doing these marathons and sharing these stories is one way to raise awareness and make an impact. So that is what I will continue to do, I will keep running.
This marathon for Krystyna was a little tougher than the last few. You will see my overall finish time and think I ran fast and that all went well. I did run fast but that is only half of the story. Every marathon is a journey and this one was a tough run mentally as well as physically. I ended up getting a late start so the plan was to start running this one outside before transitioning inside to finish up on the treadmill. To be honest I haven’t run a full marathon completely outside in a while, with the last few being done entirely inside on the treadmill. As a coach, I’m always telling participants about the importance of gradually incorporating things into their training plan. Drastic changes usually end up leading to disaster. A slow progression and an easy build up is always the smart way to go. So that being said I didn’t want to go from 100% treadmill running to 100% outside, pounding the pavement running just like that.
It was outside to start and the first 8.5 miles were run on a familiar route that circles a small lake not far from my house. It’s a nice, fairly flat, route that I enjoy running so things started off promising. Around mile 6 the mild, spring-like weather turned quickly as some rain clouds moved in. The temperature quickly dropped, the wind picked up and I was now running in short sleeves and shorts when it got cold and I was not dressed for this. I had been sweating and with the changes I now felt cold so I knew I needed to head back to the house and get inside quickly. Luckily, I was just a couple miles away at this point so I was able to make it home, change clothes, fuel up before getting on the treadmill to finish the marathon.
Even before pushing that start button on the treadmill my legs felt pretty heavy and tired. After doing the math in my head I knew I had 17.7 miles ahead of me and it honestly felt daunting. Like I mentioned before I had done the last few marathons entirely on the treadmill so with just under 18 miles left to run, you would think that wouldn’t seem all that bad. I tried to wrap my mind around it but it just felt like a lot and the motivation to push through wasn’t as high as I would have liked. Nevertheless, the belt on the treadmill started to roll but after only 2 miles I was now struggling to continue. My tired legs were turning over but my mind was still having a hard time with what laid in front of me. Fifteen miles seemed like forever so it was going to be a tough run. Some days just feel harder and some runs never seem easy. Tough runs make tough runners, but man they are hard and take a lot of mental strength just to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Listening to music is a good distraction and focusing on your form and your breathing also helps keep the mind occupied. When things get hard mentally, I tend to try and get lost in thought but that doesn’t always work. Another thing I tried was adjusting the pace and I decided I’d do a mile at a time. I would speed up and slow down just to help make the time pass. There are games you can play and things you can try which might help get through runs like this one, but ultimately you just need to keep going. Everything in your mind is saying stop, but luckily in my case today it was just some tired legs and a mental struggle that I was fighting. Some runs are hard and some are easy, this one was hard but pushing through and getting it done makes it satisfying and will help down the road with the next one.
In the end my overall pace ended up being quicker than I expected. Playing around with the speed brought down my finish time, but my legs are definitely feeling that effort. I’m more sore than normal and this run was hard on my body, but I’ll recover and be ready to go for the next one. One marathon at a time, mile after mile, step by step. No matter how hard these are, I’m committed to keep going, pushing through whatever obstacles stand in the way. Whether it’s mental or physical I’ll keep going and do all I can to keep moving forward. I draw so much strength and determination from those I’m running for and it definitely helps. Having meaning behind a run like this is all I need and helps to drive me every step of the way.
This 26.2 For You was for you Krystyna. I was honored to share your story and run a marathon for you. Thank you for being the IBD warrior you are and for being a hero to me and countless others. We are so fortunate to have you in the IBD community and as a part of the Team Challenge family. Thank you for all you do and I can’t wait to join you as we ride closer to cures with the cycle team in the fall!